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“Baym tir fun gan-eydn” Performed by Mimi Erlich and Hasia Goldberg-Gering

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2021 by yiddishsong

Baym tir fun gan-eydn / At the door of Paradise
Sung by Mimi Erlich and Hasia Goldberg-Gering
Ehrlich recorded by Itzik Gottesman at KlezKanada, St. Agathe, Quebec, approx. 2007;
Gering-Goldberg recording from the Music Department of the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem, recorded 1980.

Courtesy of the Yiddish Book Center
“Baym tir fun gan-eydn” sung by Mimi Erlich

For Hasia Gering-Goldberg’s version, please click here and listen from 42:54 to 44:06.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

My interest in this song began when Mimi Erlich z”l, a teacher and accomplished musician, approached me while waiting for dinner outside the dining hall at the KlezKanada festival. She sang what she remembered from her mother. Erlich recently passed and and in her memory I put this blog together.  A video interview with her can be found at the Wexler Oral History Project at the Yiddish Book Center. 

A fine recording of the song by Hasya Gering-Goldberg is from the on-line holdings of the Music Department at the National Library in Jerusalem. It is more complete than Erlich’s though the second verse is cut-off. I have transcribed and translated the versions of Gering-Goldberg and Erlich. The music and words of one verse of a similar version can be found in Abraham Idelsohn’s monumental Thesaurus of Hebrew-Oriental Melodies (1914-1932), Volume 9, #724 (please see scans below). Several texts were sent to A. Forsher for his column “Pearls of the Yiddish Poets” in the Forverts newspaper (scans below). But so far the authorship of this song has not been found. In a poetry collection of Aron Kriwitzky he includes a longer, fuller text for the song (below).

So we have 6 variants of the song, all of them from Lithuania:

1) Idelsohn vol. 9, text and music.
2 & 3)  In the “Perl” column Jan. 23, 1972, second section page 13. there is a version by Paula Segal and one by Henye Shenkman.
4) Erlich, recording.
5) Goldberg-Gering, recording.
6) The extended version found in Aron Kriwitzky’s collection.

Thanks to Yiddish teacher and researcher Eliezer Niborski for finding the Goldberg-Gering recording and the text in Aron Kriwitzky’s poetry collection. Thanks also to Jill Horowitz, friend of Mimi Erlich, and  to Gila Flam, head of the Music Deptartment at the National Library, Jerusalem.

Verson of Hasia Goldberg-Gering (חסיה גולדברג-גרינג)

“Der gan-eydn” [ spoken: “Paradise”]

Baym tir fun gan-eydn
shteyen malokhim on a shir.
Mentshn viln arayngeyn reydn
nor men halt zey op bay der tir. 

At the door to paradise
stand many angels. 
People want to enter and speak
but they are stopped at the door.

Mikhoyl, Gavril haltn di bikher.
Me leyent zey for zeyer zind.
Un yeder eyner vil vos gikher
in gan-eydn arayn geshvind.

Michael, Gabriel are keeping the books.
They read their sins to them .
And everyone wants, as fast as possible,
to enter paradise quickly.

Nor me shtupt zey op mit beyde hent.
Men farmakht far zey di tir.
“Geyt in gehenem un vert farbrent.
Der gan-eydn iz nit far dir!”

But they are pushed away  with both hands.
The door is closed for them. 
“Go to hell and burn:
Paradise is not for you!”

Kumt tsu geyn a kheynevdike yidene
mit a horband a reytn,
mit korbn-minkhes* un mit  siderlekh farshidene
un mit a kop a bloyzn.

A charming woman arrives
with a red headband,
with korbn-minkhes* and various prayer books,
and with an uncovered head.

Avek fun danet du arura
Du host zikh gefirt fardorbn.

Away from here you cursed women.
You led a corrupted life

Korbn-minkhe* : a woman’s prayer book written in Yiddish.

בײַם טיר פֿון גן־עדן
.שטייען מלאכים אָן אַ שיעור
מענטשן ווילן אַרײַנגיין רעדן
.נאָר מען האַלט זיי אָפּ בײַ דער טיר.

מיכאל, גבֿריאל האַלטן די ביכער
.מע לייענט זיי פֿאָר זייער זינד.
און יעדער איינער וויל וואָס גיכער
.אין גן־עדן אַרײַן געשווינד.

נאָר מע שטופּט זיי אָפּ מיט ביידע הענט
.מען פֿאַרמאַכט פֿאַר זיי די טיר.
גייט אין גיהנום און ווערט פֿאַרברענט”
“!דער גן־עדן איז ניט פֿאַר דיר

קומט צו גיין אַ חנעוודיקע ייִדענע
.מיט אַ האָרבאַנד אַ רייטן
מיט קרבן־מינחהס און סידערלער פֿאַרשידענע
.און מיט אַ קאָפּ אַ בלויזן

!אַוועק פֿון דאַנעט דו ארורה
.דו האָסט זיך געפֿירט פֿאַרדאָרבן

Version of Mimi Erlich

Bay dem tir fun gan-eydn
shteyen yidn on a shir.
Yederer vil epes reydn

Men shtupt zey avek
mit beyde hent.

Gey in gehenim un ver farbrent!
Der gan-eydn iz nit far dir.

At the door of paradise,
many people are standing.
Everyone wants to say something

They are pushed away
with both hands.

Go to hell and burn.
Paradise is not for you!

בײַם טיר פֿון גן־עדן
.שטייען מענטשן אָן אַ שיעור
יעדער וויל עפּעס ריידן

מען שטופּט זיי אַוועק
.מיט ביידע הענט

!גיי אין גיהנום און ווער פֿאַרברענט
.דער גן־עדן איז נישט פֿאַר דיר

From Abraham Idelsohn, Thesaurus of Hebrew Oriental Melodies (1914-1932), Vol 9, #724:

From A. Forsher’s column “Pearls of the Yiddish Poets” in the Forverts, Jan. 23, 1972, second section, page 13. Presenting versions from Paula Segal and Henye Shenkman:

From Aron Kriwitzky’s Collection (published in Israel):

“Di apikorsim” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2012 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Di apikorsim (“The Heretics”) was the first song that Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) sang for collector Leybl Kahn in NYC in 1954. He recorded approximately 100 songs sung by LSW over the next few weeks or months. LSW is my grandmother and the child one hears in the background is my then 4-year old sister Taube. At one point during her singing, she gets up and runs after her. The spoken dialogue between LSW and Kahn is transcribed in the Yiddish text.

In Shloyme Prizament’s book Di broder zinger (Buenos-Aires, 1960), he has a version of this song with the music on pages 110-112. He writes that he wrote the words and music, and states that Pepi Litman recorded it. There is indeed a recording of Pepi Litman performing the song. This book can now be read and downloaded at the Yiddish Book Center website.

Shloyme Prizament was born in 1889 in Hibinev, Galicia and died in Buenos-Aires in 1973; his biography appears in the third volume of the “Leksikon fun yidishn teater”, pages 1873- 1876. Prizament was an amazingly prolific composer, songwriter, but I am not convinced that he wrote the song that LSW performs. The more likely scenario, in my opinion, is that he based his song on the popular current version that LSW sings.

The song itself, a maskilic song mocking the Hasidim but sung in the voice of true believers, was a common genre. However, in Apikorsim the humor is quite vulgar. In songs such as “Kum aher du filosof” the irony is much more subtle. Ruth Rubin’s book Voices of a People has a nice section on maskilic songs (chapter 10). Rubin also prints Velvl Zbarzher’s song “Moshiakh’s tsaytn” (pp. 255 – 257) which is on the same theme as di apikorsim.

A couple of comments on the words and rhymes of Apikorsim: “Daytshn” literally means “Germans”, but in the Yiddish of the 19th century, early 20th century, it referred to the Maskilim, the Jews who were assimilating and dressing like Germans – that is, as modern Europeans.

You will also hear that in the refrain which begins “Folgts daytshn…” there is no rhyme for gikh. LSW sings sheyn. The implied rhyme should be rikh – the devil, and my mother remembers LSW singing it vet ir oyszen vi a layt or oyszen vi a rikh so i put those options in brackets. The listener would have understood the implied rhyme gikh and rikh.

Di apikorsim, di voyle-yingen
es vet in zey ale trasken lingen
zey veln ale tsepiket vern
ven zey veln shoyfer-shel-moshiakh derhern.

The heretics, those loose fellows, 
Their lungs will all rattle.
They will burst apart,
when they hear the shofar of the messiah.

Far kol-rom vet vern gehert
der rebe vet lernen toyre.
Di apikorsim veln faln tsu dr’erd
far shrek un far moyre.

Loudly for all, it will be heard
the rebbe will teach Torah.
the heretics will fall to the ground,
out of fear and alarm.

Folgts datshn mekh,
un verts khasidemlekh gikh.
Tits un a yeyder yidishe kleyder
vet ir oyszen sheyn [vi a layt] [vi a rikh]/

Listen to me Germans [assimilated Jews]
and become Hasidim quickly.
Each of you dress in Jewish clothes,
so you will appear – beautiful [vi a layt – presentable] [vi a rikh – like a demon]

Hop, hop, yadadada, yadadalakh
hop, hop, yah……hop, hop, yadalala

Hop, hop, yadadada, yadadalakh
hop, hop, yah……hop, hop, yadalala

Eyner vet esn tsimes-kigl,
eyner a shtikl beylik,
eyner dem kigl, un eyner dem fligl,
un di rebetsin – dos interkheylik.

One will eat a tsimes-kugl
another a piece of white chicken meat.
For one a kugl, for another a wing,
and for the rebetsin – the bottom part.

Mir veln pikn fun dem rikn,
mir veln nisht ofhern,
Di sonim veln shteyn fun der vaytns [un kikn,]
un tsepiket vern.

We will gnaw on the backside,
and we will not stop.
Our enemies will stand from a distance [and watch].
And burst from envy.

Folgst daytshn…..
hop, hop….

Listen to me Germans…
Hop, hop….

Eyner vet esn a tsimes-kigl,
eyner a shtikl beylik
eyner a fligkl, dem andern dem kigl,
un di rebetsin – dos interkheylik.

One will eat a tsimes-kugel
one a piece of white meat.
One a wing, another the kugel,
and the rebetsin – the bottom part.

Vayn vet rinen fun di stelyes
af der rebetsin aleyn veln vaksn drelyes,
Mir, heylike kushere khsidim
veln hobn vos tsu lekn.

Wine will flow from the ceilings,
grapevines will even grow on the rebbetzin.
We holy and kosher hasidim
will have what to lick.

Af deym bal, in deytm groysn zal,
talmidim, khsidim,
rabonim, dayonim
veln mit undz tantsn geyn.

At the ball,
in the great hall,
yeshiva-students, Jewish judges,
will all dance with us.

Hop, hop…

Hop, hop.